File photo of the CBI M Nageshwara Rao
File photo of former interim CBI chief M Nageshwara Rao | PTI Photo/Manvender Vashist
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New Delhi: Former CBI acting director M. Nageswara Rao has called for a ban on foreign funding of NGOs in India saying “charity, especially that of the foreign variety, comes with a hidden agenda”.

In an article titled ‘The Dangers of Foreign Funding’ written in RSS mouthpiece Organiser, Rao said only “overseas citizens of India” should be allowed to donate to Indian NGOs for the purpose of preservation, study and promotion of ancient Indian texts and traditional Indian knowledge.

“There is no such thing as free lunch. Charity especially that of the foreign variety, comes with stated or hidden agenda. Large amount of funding for the so-called non-profit or non-commercial sector in India is generated as overseas ‘donations’ by various organisations that are affiliated to foreign State and non-State actors,” wrote Rao, who is currently the Director-General of Home Guards, Fire Services and Civil Defence.

“It is heartening to note that the present central government has been very sincere and proactive in enforcing the FCRA (Foreign Contribution Regulation Act). Yet, it hardly has any impact on the quantum of remittances for the simple reason that the problem is FCRA itself,” the article published on 27 January added. 

“Therefore, no amount of tweaking the law can mitigate the danger. Hence, the only way to save the country from this serious menace… is by banning all sorts of foreign ‘donations’, whatever may be their purpose,” Rao wrote.

It is rare for a serving IPS officer to write for a journal associated with the RSS.

According to the service rules of civil servants, IPS officers can write only on scientific, cultural and literary subjects with a disclaimer stating that views expressed are personal.

Rao was appointed as the acting director of CBI on 23 October 2018 at a time when there was a fight going on between then CBI director Alok Verma and his deputy Rakesh Asthana.

Rao, an Odisha-cadre IPS officer, was given his current charge in July 2019.

He has been working with various organisations on causes such as freeing temples from state control, banning beef export, and has also participated in meetings of RSS think-tanks India Foundation and Vivekananda International Foundation.

Also read: Govt banned 14,500 NGOs from receiving foreign funds in past 5 years

Rs 2 lakh crore ‘foreign donations’ came to India in last 20 yrs

In his article, Rao said “humongous amount of Rs 2,08,096 crore” has been received by Indian NGOs as “foreign donations” in the last two decades “through official open channels“.

“This discussion does not factor in the amount of foreign funds that gets into the country through illegal routes or otherwise camouflaged as foreign investment,” he added.

Rao wrote that further analysis of the FCRA data indicates that the total amount brought forward by the FCRA-NGOs “as unspent money from past foreign donations” as on 1 April 2017 is a “whopping Rs 15,907 crore”. He said more than 50% of this amount is lying with “about 2% of the FCRA-NGOs”.

Rao asked why foreigners are donating such huge amounts to Indians unless they have some agenda. If their intention is just philanthropy, he questioned, why they aren’t donating funds to help people in their own countries.

“No self-respecting sovereign country much less a civilisational nation with aspirations of superpower can afford such blatant meddling in its domestic affairs,” he wrote. 

‘Not a beggar nation that needs foreign charity’

Citing “serious concerns” expressed from different quarters about the role of foreign funds in creating “subtle as well as obvious” influence on the executive, legislative, judicial, political, religious and economic processes of the country, Rao wrote: “…foreign funds have been the prime mover for changing the religious demography, interference in our indigenous religious traditions and practices, creating hurdles in our socio-economic progress…colonising our minds and subverting our national discourse to suit certain sinister purposes.”

The former CBI acting chief said India is “not a beggar nation that needs foreign charity”.

“Charity presupposes an unequal relationship, for, the receiving hand is always below the giving hand. Being one of the biggest emerging economies, we are capable of internally generating the money required for philanthropic, relief and rehabilitation, religious and charitable purposes. The institutionalised CSR funding is one such prime example.”

Rao said India has “rightly been refusing foreign aid even during disasters”, and that it was “high time that we revisit our public and legislative policy towards foreign ‘donations’, a substantial part of which are suspected to be funding the fifth columns and breaking India programmes”.

Advocating a ban on “all sorts of foreign donations” he, however, sought to make an exception for the Indians settled abroad.

“India has long recognised the valuable contribution of its diaspora who have civilisational and emotional connect with India. It is mutually beneficial for India and its diaspora to strengthen this civilisational umbilical connection. Hence, donations made by the overseas citizens of India in their individual capacity… and not acting as agents or conduits for others, that too for the limited purpose of preservation, study, promotion and propagation of ancient Indian texts and traditional Indian knowledge, may be allowed.”

Rao also said any foreigner “genuinely interested in philanthropy” and who wants to help India “is always welcome to donate to the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund”.

Also read: Top CBI officer Nageswara Rao fined Rs 1 lakh for disobeying Supreme Court order


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11 Comments Share Your Views


  1. अगर विदेशी फंड हमारे देश के हित में है तो इसमें बुराई क्या है? भारत में गैर सरकारी संगठनों को एफसीआरए के तहत ईसाई मिशनरियों को ही अधिकांश फंडिंग मिलती रही है और वे जाहिर है इसका इस्तेमाल भारत में ही करते रहे हैं, इसमें बुराई कहाँ है??दुर्भावनाओं से ग्रस्त होकर यह निष्कर्ष निकालना कि इससे भारतीयों के स्थानीय धर्मों के रूढ़िवादी परम्परा के लिए अथवा भारत के हिन्दुइज्म के लिए घातक है, सरासर मूढ़ता है.
    अगर इन पैसों का दुरूपयोग किसी खास धर्म के प्रचार-प्रसार के प्रयोजन के लिए होता है, तो सशंकित गैर सरकारी संगठन अथवा सरकारें इसकी हर प्रकार से निगरानी व जाँच के लिए स्वतंत्र है.
    इससे इतर देश के हजारों मंदिरों में जो अकूत धन-सम्पदा एकत्रित हैं उसका जनहित व जनकल्याण कार्यों में इस्तेमाल हेतु कानून के बारे में यही सरकार क्यों नहीं कदम उठाती है??
    दरअसल सवाल यह नहीं कि विदेशी दान पर प्रतिबंध लगाया जाए.बल्कि यह कि प्राप्त दानों का सही इस्तेमाल पर ईमानदारी से निगरानी की जाए और सभी दूर्भावनाओं से ऊपर है उठकर सभी प्रकार के दानों का इस्तेमाल राष्ट्र हित में हो इस बात की गारंटी हो यह भी सरकार का कर्तव्य हो,सुनिश्चित की जाए. दूर्भावनाओं से ग्रसित कदम राष्ट्र के लिए हमेशा हानिकारक साबित होगा. यह मेरी निजी राय है.

  2. I fully agree with Ginto Mathew. This is a small minded, and anxiety-ridden, screed. A great civilization and a confident democracy cannot close itself off to all influences without destroying itself.

  3. If this is the thinking in the CBI, no wonder it is unable to close most cases under it’s investigation. Plenty of hypothetical arguments but zero evidence. No wonder so many CBI cases are thrown out of court. Since no Indian government is interested in areas like healthcare, education and basic welfare of the ordinary Indian, it is unjustifiable to ban NGOs that fill the gap. The day Indian governments sincerely start working for the welfare of the aam aadmi/aurat, NGOs will automatically become less relevant.

  4. to all those amazing humans who regularly visit print:
    just a few decades back, a vast majority of humans who lived in north-east of india (meghalaya, mizoram, manipur, nagaland) followed their centuries-old tribal religions. In just the past few decades “HUGE THANKS TO NGO” activity, today – these same people yearn for a white-skinned ars__ole born in nazareth as ‘saviour”. That is the power of these NGOs. Soon enough, these same people (who now hate their ancestral-tribal religions & ape nazareth-ian thoughts/ideologies) will fight against the Union of India and seek “independence”.
    Personally – i disagree with ban of any sort (ban of assault rifles, ban on alcohol, ban on marijuana, ban on port) – and hence I stand against this M.N.Rao for this stance.

    My idea would be:
    1. Since 100+ crores of Indians have Aadhar Card & it is possible to create + link bank accounts for these people
    2. For every Rs 100 that an NGO wants to spend to a cause that it holds important (say soul-harvesting, or spreading salafi-wahabi ideologies), a minimum of Rs 10,000 should be deposited in the account of each villager in a particular village
    3. Each NGO will be assigned around 10,000 villages – and hence for making any contribution to “their” cause – they will first need to make the Rs 10,000 deposit to each villager (online deposit direct to the villager’s bank account)
    4. The description on the transaction must necessarily read: “This deposit is made as mandated by Govt of India” – and it must also be in the language that the locals/villagers understand

    This way – all the bharath-thodo forces can still operate their NGOs and continue to spread venom against the unity of India. But, they will have ZERO impact, since each villager will know that they got Rs 10,000 due to Govt rule on said NGOs.

    If even 1% of these NGOs were truly empathetic/sympathetic to even a single Indian villager, you will see they voluntarily adapt this policy; but rest assured – these NGOs and their chamcha (like print, quint, wire, scroll etc) will fight such a legislation/advisory tooth and nail.

    Allah hafiz

  5. The Central Government should have the right to look into how the finances are being spent, but to shut down NGOs would be a stupid move. I am aware of many schools in the distressed areas being fully supported financially by NGOs where the local governments have not been able to serve and/ or help. Shutting down NGOs indiscriminately will put more of these section of the society in distress and obviate any future development of this segment of population.

  6. It is because of this stance that has”Permitted” him inside CBI?? The fate of millions of kids in formative years suffer from Vitamin 12 deficiency in India.. That alone will reduce their IQ even lower than RSS IQ. What a shame. All yes man around are mum. Hope at least they feed chicken eggs to their kids., if the poor midday meals do not get it. Aheesh, what a dumb bell.

  7. One wonders where the columnist would place institutions like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. 2. Diaspora contributing to study of ancient texts. If we get lucky, we might come across blueprints and working drawings for ICBMs with MIRV capabilities.

  8. Yeah. Why would one human being choose to help another one in need, unless there is an ulterior motive? It is beyond logic, isn’t it? Especially when we are flush with prosperity and jobs and healthcare for every section of society. But wait, not every human, only being a foreigner is the problem, and that too spending on real philanthropic work.. “donations made by the overseas citizens of India in their individual capacity from their personal funds, and not acting as agents or conduits for others, that too for the limited purpose of preservation, study, promotion and propagation of ancient Indian texts and traditional Indian knowledge, may be allowed.” So we are not rich enough to do this promotion and propagation of “tradition, and ancient texts” ourselves internally? What a shame!!! I am amazed at how narrow minded is the thinking of an ex- top civil service personnel in the country.

    This too from a country whose very own ancient texts proclaimed things like :
    Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam
    (Whole world is one family)

    Loka Samasta Sukhino Bhavantu
    (Let the whole world be prosperous and peaceful)

    Yatra Vishwam Bhawatveka Needam
    (The whole world is a bird’s cage with all it diversity. The desire for well-being should include our planet, our nature, all countries and the entire humanity.)

  9. Just by making it mandatory for all institutions receiving donations to be registered and audited with clear details of utilisation of funds will make the system more transparent. Donations cannot be stopped, but, can be regulated; by limiting it only for social causes identified by the govt. Any religious donations should be banned.


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